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Mourners gather for April's funeral

Source BBC News@

Horse-drawn carriageThe white and pink decorated hearse made its way through the town to St Peter's Church

A horse-drawn carriage carrying the coffin of murdered five-year-old April Jones has arrived at the church for her funeral.

Hundreds of mourners followed the procession from her home in Machynlleth, Powys.

The white and pink decorated hearse made its way through the town to St Peter's Church to the strains of Emeli Sande.

April was murdered by 47-year-old Mark Bridger almost a year ago.

Donations made at the service will be used to sponsor a five-year-old girl in Africa, the town's vicar has said.

The carriage is being followed by cars carrying April's parents Coral and Paul and other members of their family.

Church officials said the funeral would be a service of hymns and prayers and there would be no eulogies.

Those who helped search for April last October are expected to attend, while Det Supt Andy John, the senior investigator in the murder inquiry, two family liaison officers and temporary Deputy Chief Constable Carl Langley will represent Dyfed-Powys Police.

Members of the community are expected to be taking part in the service, including April's former head teacher Gwenfair Glyn.

The Reverend Kathleen Rogers says donations from mourners will be used to sponsor a child in Uganda

April was abducted by Bridger while playing near her home in Machynlleth on 1 October last year, sparking the biggest missing person search in UK police history.

Bridger was jailed for life after being found guilty at Mold Crown Court in May following a month-long trial.

He will never be released from prison.

Despite one of the biggest search operations in police history, April's body has never been found but police recovered tiny fragments of bone at Bridger's home.

Floral tributes were left outside the church on Thursday morning and book of remembrance has been placed on a table inside the entrance.

The church can hold 250 people and the service will be relayed to people outside the church through speakers.

The Reverend Kathleen Rogers said donations would be used to sponsor a child in Uganda, via the charity World Vision.

"It is a little girl of five from Uganda and it's all done in memory of April," she said.

She said the girl would be sponsored until she completed her education.


A service paying tribute to April Jones will take place in Welshpool on Thursday at the same time as her funeral in Machynlleth - nearly 40 miles away.

April's favourite song, believed to be Black Heart by the girl band Stooshe, will be played, and a specially-written poem by a local resident will be read at the service outside the town hall.

Traffic will be stopped in the town's main street while a minute's silence is observed and local vicar Steve Wilson will lead people in prayer. Mayor John Meredith will also address the service.

Welshpool town clerk Robert Robinson said April's death touched so many people that the town council felt it had to mark her funeral.

"Other donations will be an extra gift for the girl, her family and her village to use as they need. The parish will receive regular updates and photographs about the girl as she grows up," she added.

Ms Rogers said April's parents, Coral and Paul Jones, had shown "immense dignity" throughout their ordeal and were "trying their best to cope". Sometimes they struggled with their loss but on other occasions they were "very, very strong", she said.

"It's important for the family especially that they have a chance to say their goodbyes properly," the vicar added.

"It's hopefully a beginning of an ending, a beginning of an acceptance perhaps of this awful tragedy that has happened. Everybody needs that and more so perhaps in this case because it's been such a horrific case.

Machynlleth town clock decorated with pink ribbonsMachynlleth town clock has been decorated with pink ribbons in tribute to April

"The police didn't find April's body but following the inquest what we do have are some of her remains that we are able to bury."

Her son John Rogers, who is the church organist, said: "The hymns have been chosen jointly by Coral and Paul and my mother.

"I don't know how people are going to cope today. People challenged their emotions initially into the search for April last year but today I suspect there will be an outpouring of grief and for a lot of people, and especially the town, it will mean closure for them."

Two poems will be read at the funeral both written by a local man at the time of April's disappearance and the search for her.

The first is called 'April' and will be read by Sian Calban, a teacher at April's school.

The second poem is called 'An Autumn Night' and is being read by head teacher Gwenfair Glyn.

Meanwhile, a fund set up shortly after April's disappearance has raised more than £76,000 and will close on Monday, the day before the anniversary of her abduction.

The trustees of April's Fund are considering donating some of the money to her primary school and the search and rescue teams who helped look for her.

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